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3/29/2007
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Dell To Sell Linux On Laptops, PCs

After positive customer feedback, the No. 1 PC maker will expand its Linux offerings to Optiplex desktops and Latitude notebooks.

Dell listened to the cry of its customers and has decided to offer Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook computers.

The PC maker said on Wednesday it will expand support for Linux beyond its existing servers and its Precision workstation line of products. The details are murky, although Dell said it will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes information on which systems it will offer, its testing and certification strategy, and which Linux distributors it plans to work with.

Dell already has relationships with Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell. It recently received certification of its Optiplex desktops, Latitude notebooks, and Precision workstations for Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. It Precision workstations also come with the option of having Red Hat Linux preinstalled.

Many customers expressed their thoughts on Dell's Direct2Dell blog, an online meeting place where customers share ideas and provide suggestions, indicating the need for improved hardware support. Customers say they typically don't have a preference for distributors, but rather would like to see Dell make sure that the underlying hardware in its PCs is properly supported in the Linux kernel.

"Dell recognizes the importance of open source, GPL-licensed drivers," says Matt Domsch, Dell's Linux Software Architect, in a posting on the company's Direct2Dell blog. "Most drivers are in good shape now, but there's clearly longer-term work to be done. Work that we're doing now at the driver level will pave the way for more Linux offerings in the future."

Earlier this month, Dell launched a Linux Web survey asking customers which Dell system they would like to see with Linux, among other questions. More than 100,000 people took the survey and over 70% of them said they would use a Dell system with a Linux operating system for both home and office use.

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